Backstage Interview | 85th Academy Awards

Sound Mixing

CATEGORY: Sound Mixing
INTERVIEW WITH: Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes


Q.Sound mixing for LES MIS. In this order. Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson, Simon Hayes. Q.With the music being sung live, what are the different obstacles for the sound and sound mixing and putting them with the rest of the sounds in the film and was this an easy production for to you do with the singing done live? A.(Andy Nelson) It's always essentially hard to record vocals on the set, whether they're singing or dialogue, because there are so many challenges on the film set. There are so many noises we have to cut through, from [inaudible] to Rue Plumet in the rain, all of those different noises that we have to cut through and make sure that we record clean enough vocals and then Andy here could marry them to the music. Q.There's been a lot of attention to the music, and, obviously, it's a musical. What are some of the other elements of the movie that were challenging for the sound mixing that people might not be aware of? A.(Simon Hayes) Actually, I think when a musical is sung through in its entirety, like this one, it's very hard to go from song to song where you're not breaking the mold of the film. And so for us to introduce the sound effects, which Mark was involved in, judiciously in those moments so it didn't take you into a different type of movie and you never left the musical sense. So there were challenges, transitions and the songs were challenges. A.(Mark Paterson) Of course, in the real word as well, people don't burst into song. So it's about how you can integrate that real world into those songs without distracting from the performance, which was key as we know. A.(Andy Nelson) And we should talk about performance for a second. Those actors were singing absolutely live, and what our jobs really were to do was to make sure that those fantastic, emotive performances on the set made it all the way through the production, post production chain, and into the theater for the cinema audience to enjoy, and no rerecording on any solo vocals were done. Those were the real performances on the set. Q.Annie Hathaway praised you guys from the stage, and when I was on the set, they were telling us how closely they worked with you. I mean, you know, through the rehearsals, you sat through the six weeks of rehearsals, I think. Just give us a sense of how close you work with those performers. A.(Andy Nelson) There was an incredible amount of trust. Before we started shooting LES MISERABLES, we just said, "Guys, we're just going to have to hold hands and jump off this cliff together." And all of the actors knew what we were doing was groundbreaking. What we were trying to achieve was groundbreaking. They had to sing for 10 or 12 hours a day every day, take after take, and it was our job to capture them and make sure that what we recorded was good enough to make it into the movie, because Tom Hooper's vision was to never re record any vocals at all. And what we managed to do was to make sure that those performances on the set made it into the theater.


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